Crimes on public transport in England 'cost £1.5bn'

Image caption There were more than half a million crimes on public transport in a year, according to the figures

Crimes on public transport in England cost an estimated £1.5bn a year, according to government figures.

The total is calculated from the cost of repairing vandalism, the money spent taking alleged offenders through the legal system and spending on measures intended to prevent crime.

There were more than 77,000 reported and recorded cases of crime on railways and London Underground over 12 months.

And on buses and trams, more than 131,000 offences occurred.

But these figures - for the financial year 2006-7 - more than double when estimates of unreported crimes such as fare evasion are added.

When included in the calculations, the rail total reaches 197,000, while the bus total rises to 308,000.

The total cost of crime on rail networks, including the Tube and Docklands Light Railway in London, reached an estimated £927m, with buses and trams adding £574m to the total.

The research, which has just been released, was conducted by the Department for Transport in 2008. The researchers also asked passengers how safe they felt on public transport.

Image caption People liked seeing transport staff at stations but were not always sure what they did, the report said

The report suggested people were reassured when staff were visible on transport networks but were unclear exactly what these employees did or whether they would be able to deter crime or deal with serious matters.

The issues which made passengers feel insecure or uncomfortable included broken glass at bus shelters, stations with a great deal of litter or bus stops with poor lighting.

Transport minister Norman Baker said it was important to ensure transport was "a safe option" and passengers could travel "safely and securely".

"Thankfully this research shows that crime on public transport is rare," he added.

"However, one incident is obviously one incident too many, but at its worst it can lead to reduced patronage, damaged vehicles, high staff turnover, and ultimately the withdrawal of services."

British Transport Police said crime on the rail network had fallen by 20% since the report was compiled.

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